We, the people, need to step up if we are going to be net zero by 2045 - Catherine Gee

We can’t help but notice that extreme weather events driven by climate change are becoming more frequent and severe, and their impacts, in Scotland and across the globe, increasingly obvious. Nor can we have missed the clear code red for the planet given by the United Nations in its recent report on climate change.

Catherine Gee, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful
Catherine Gee, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful

With the UN COP26 climate change conference coming to Glasgow in November the pressure is on global politicians to deliver a positive result.

But we can’t wait for them to solve this crisis alone. Although great reductions have been made in Scotland’s emissions, if we are to become a net zero nation by 2045, then we, the people, are going to have to step up – and that could change how we live our lives completely – most likely for the better.

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We need a Scotland that is socially, culturally and behaviourally climate aware for it to be effective in addressing climate change. This requires a positive ramping up and shift in public engagement and education to raise awareness of the climate facts, the challenges ahead while providing a clear route which helps people participate in a just transition to net zero.

To help achieve this goal we have been delivering Climate Emergency Training, with our strategic partner the Carbon Literacy Project, since 2016, supporting almost 3,000 learners to become certified as Carbon Literate in Scotland. But, we need to do so much more.

Our training, which provides the knowledge, confidence and skills that we all need to make decisions and take actions that positively address climate change, has been delivered to a wide variety of people across Scotland – from elected members, employers, educators, business leaders, community leaders, young people and individuals.

Almost half of those accredited are educators and young people through our Climate Ready Classrooms programme. And we are delighted that with funding from Scottish Government our training is now being delivered to Scouts Scotland and Girlguiding Scotland leaders, and in partnership with Young Scot and Youthlink Scotland to over 650 youth activists and youth workers.

This September we ran our first online Climate Action Week in schools right across the country. With multiple classes logging on to online lessons delivered by our education team in 400+ schools, and 300 primary and secondary teachers committing to attend COP26 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions we are supporting the nation to identify the carbon footprint impact of their own activities and confidently work out where they can most effectively take positive action.

In response to global calls for a greater focus on climate change education we have also just launched a new Climate Change topic for the international Eco-Schools Scotland programme.

And to build on our legacy of supporting community climate action, with funding from Scottish Government, we have announced Scotland’s Climate Festival. This programme of activity will facilitate national events and local festivals across the country with our support. We will particularly be focusing on helping less engaged new audiences, to plan, promote and deliver local climate festivals that will appeal to their community, drawing significantly on local enthusiasts and experts to run events.

Alongside this programme, we are also supporting seven new communities to produce tailored community climate action plans. Our role is to support communities to begin their actions, signpost them to sources of further advice and funding relevant to their plan and help them evaluate their impact.

It has never been more important for us all to commit to meaningful carbon reduction actions to tackle the climate crisis quickly and at scale, but we have also never been in a better place to be able to support communities and young people, in particular, to take the right path to help Scotland become a Net Zero Nation.

Catherine Gee, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful

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